Loughner mental competency hearing Wednesday
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Is Jared Loughner sane enough to stand trial?
That question may be resolved Wednesday as the accused gunman in the January 8th Mass Shooting has a mental competency hearing in Federal Court.
To most people shooting 19 people and killing six of them stretches the limits of sanity.
But the competency hearing uses a different measure.
Is Loughner able to understand the trial and help his attorneys defend him?
Attorney Sean Chapman is a former senior Federal Prosecutor. He's prosecuted people with mental health issues, and defended them.
He says, "If there's any question about his competency the judge is likely to remand him to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons in a special psychiatric hospital for approximately four months to see if he can be restored to competency."
Two psychiatrists have examined Loughner. Their reports have not been released but we know prosecutors do not dispute their findings. Loughner's attorneys are not disputing them either. Chapman says that sounds like both psychiatrists think Loughner is too deranged for trial.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Chapman: "Would it be fair to assume that the defense would prefer to accept a ruling that he's not competent for trial at this stage?"
Chapman: "I would think so. Any evidence of mental illness on his part would go to support a later insanity defense and it would also tend to support a defense argument that if he's convicted the death penalty shouldn't be imposed because he's so seriously mentally ill."
But could Loughner ever walk free? Probably not. Sean Chapman says if a Federal trial finds him not guilty by reason of insanity he'd be locked up in a psychiatric hospital unless he's found to be no threat to anyone.
But then he could still face state murder charges.
In Arizona courts he can be found guilty, but insane. If that happens, he'd be locked in a psychiatric hospital and if he's ever cured, he'd go straight to prison.